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September 03. 2011 11:27PM

Perry revs up Republicans in Manchester back yard


Texas Gov. Rick Perry won over some Republican voters at a backyard reception held Saturday at the Manchester home of Chuck Stephen and co-hosted by John Stephen, the former Republican gubernatorial nominee. (Shawne K. Wickham/Sunday News)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry brought his message of states’ rights, diminished federal government and deregulation to a receptive Republican audience on Saturday.

The event was a backyard reception held at the Manchester home of Chuck Stephen and co-hosted by his brother, former Republican gubernatorial nominee John Stephen.

Perry seemed to relish the retail politics of the day, mingling with the crowd, answering questions, signing autographs and posing for photos.

He arrived in a silver Kia Sedona van with aides and Secret Service agents. In a crisp blue-and-white-checked shirt, khakis and black athletic shoes, he joked that the 85-degree heat was nothing for a Texan.

John Stephen introduced Perry as “America’s jobs governor, who hopefully will be the next president of the United States.”

Perry spoke for about 10 minutes, then took questions for another 15, talking about immigration, help for veterans, energy and illegal drugs.

He returned over and over to a theme of reducing the role of the federal government. “It is up to us, the present generation of Americans, to take a stand for freedom, to send a message to Washington D.C., that we are taking our future back from the grips of the central planners who would control our health care, spend our treasure, downgrade our future, micro-manage our lives.”

Citing the state’s “Live free or die” motto, Perry said, “Granite Staters are not going to settle for a future that’s less than our past.”

Asked if he supports building a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Texas governor said he does not. Instead, he said, “When I’m the President of the United States, you will see National Guard troops on the border doing what we want them to do, which is to stop the illegal activities and clearly send a message to the drug cartels.”

At times, Perry addressed his remarks directly to President Barack Obama. “Mister President, you cannot spend your way to prosperity,” he declared. “It doesn’t work ... I’m tired of liberals who only care about jobs just to staff up more government programs.”

Without mentioning names, he also had some veiled criticism of other Republican candidates. “They’re all good men and women, but as we consider this economic misery that’s spread across our country by the Obama Administration, we don’t need a nominee who’s going to blur the differences between themselves and Barack Obama,” he said.

Perry said no other candidate has a record of job creation that can serve as “a blueprint for America.”

He got the biggest cheer when he vowed to repeal the health-care reform law critics call Obamacare “as soon as possible the first day I step into the Oval Office.”

The crowd of more than 400 fell completely silent as Perry answered a question from a veteran about taking care of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Perry, an Air Force veteran, said as commander in chief of his state, he’s seen 20,000 Texas National Guardsmen deployed overseas over the past 10 years.

“I truly understand our responsibility as Americans is to take care of those who stand between us and those who would do us harm,” he said.

Perhaps the best question came from a 9-year-old boy who asked Perry, “If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?”

Grinning, Perry said he doesn’t know the newer superheroes.

“But there was one back in my day who was Superman,” he said. “And Superman came to save the United States.”

After the event, Mark Clark of Bedford, who had asked Perry a question about small businesses and energy, said he likes the Texas governor a lot but isn’t yet sure for whom he’ll vote.

“I kick the tires a whole lot before I decide,” he said.

Cindy LeFebvre of North Conway said she’ll likely vote for Perry. A Texas native, she said she liked what he had to say about securing the borders.

“They wasn’t really anything he said that I didn’t like,” LeFebvre said.

Four neighborhood youngsters decided to take advantage of the numerous vehicles parked in their usually quiet subdivision.

“We thought it would be great business for people getting out of the event because they were going to be pretty thirsty,” explained Danny McGrath, 13.

His 10-year-old sister, Hannah, was roller-blading around the neighborhood with a sign advertising cold lemonade and water. “They said I was cute, so I should be standing in the road,” she said.


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